UPX is struggling to become a success, with the two car trains carrying little more than a handful of passengers. Contrary to all the hype for the last several years about getting cars off the road and reducing emissions, Metrolinx has priced the airport service to do the opposite, somehow still caught up trying to emulate Heathrow Express.
The UPX report to be presented to Metrolinx board tomorrow is bereft of considerable detail. We do learn however that weekday ridership for August to October increased 12% (not per month, but for 3 months), but that overall the increase is only 7%. Can we can deduce that weekend ridership is actually dropping?
We are told Uber is a factor in poor results; so, OK, blame them, but not for naught – reduce fares now under the guise of a one year promotion. $9.00 is inoffensive and attractive fare, about half the existing fare. So it only needs to double the existing meagre ridership to incur no additional costs. Incredibly the report tells us a buy one get one free promo is planned; will that bring new riders?
To this observer the promotional effort has fallen short. Signage at Pearson is appalling, with confusion between ‘Ground Transportation’ and ‘Public Transport’. The interchange at Dundas West/Bloor is so scruffy as to discourage riders. And predictably, ridership to/from Weston is practically non existent.
The bigger issue though is the other transit improvement schemes that were cast aside or delayed by spending so much on this one. We plan a transit system, and the moment money comes available, the plan is tossed and pet projects abound. Remember Sheppard Subway? It cost us the Eglinton Subway. Now UPX. Next up is the utterly ridiculous SmartTrack on Eglinton, instead of the planned LRT extension. What worthy projects will be shoved aside by SmartTrack. Or can we stop the habit?